Limits on lawn and garden watering will likely linger all summer in Tofino.

Water restrictions continue in Tofino

CAO Bob MacPherson says limits will stay in place this summer to increase community awareness.

Despite a modest dose of recent rainfall, Tofino remains under Stage 1 Water Restrictions.

While the restrictions are in effect, locals with odd numbered civic addresses may water their lawns and gardens Mondays and Thursdays between 6-9 am and 7-10 pm and locals with even numbered civic addresses may water on Tuesday and Friday between those same times.

“I don’t see us moving away from Stage 1 in the foreseeable future,” district CAO Bob MacPherson told the Westerly News.

“We’ve got a lot of summer ahead of us yet and we want people to at least keep thinking about being careful with how we’re using water. We don’t really know if we’re going to have another long stretch of dry weather and we want to avoid going on and off restrictions and back and forth so we’ll probably leave Stage 1 in place.”

He said his office has not received any complaints about the restrictions.

“I haven’t heard from anyone saying this is unnecessary or unneeded. I think people in Tofino are very much aware that conserving water is good for the community,” he said. “I think that, as a society, we’re becoming more conscious of how we’re using water.”

He suggested leaving Stage 1 restrictions in place would not cause hardship and doubted locals would race for their watering cans on rainy days thinking the restrictions would be lifted.

“We’re restricting how people can water their laws and their gardens, when it’s raining people aren’t doing that anyway, so we don’t think it would have an impact on people’s daily lives,” he said.

“It’s really more for bringing people’s attention to the water issue than seeing any significant decreases in the amount of water that gets used.”

He suggested Stage 2’s restrictions would be harder to live with and would be lifted as quickly as possible if they took effect this summer.

Stage 2 prohibits locals from using any potable water for outdoor washing and also includes a ban on filling hot tubs and pools.

“We try to move out of that one as quickly as we can but we’ll probably stay in Stage 1 for most of the summer,” MacPherson said.

He acknowledged there are larger local water users than those watering their gardens and suggested the district could look to new initiatives for larger impacts.

“One of the things that we are looking into for 2017 is, can we put a program in place that will get some of our bigger water users to do a water audit to see what they can do to use less water and also save themselves some money along the way,” he said.

“Some of the larger water users have already started that process but we’d like to bring a little bit of rigor to it and, kind of, connect it back to the larger picture for the community.”

He said district staff plan to present new ideas for water conservation to Tofino’s municipal council.

“We’re going to clean up our [water] conservation bylaw as well as ask council to put some policies in place for water conservation and budget for some different things over the next little while,” he said. “It will be interesting.”

He assured there is no concern within the district office that Tofino could run out of water this summer.

“We’re not running out of water,” he said. “Our reservoirs on Meares Island are overflowing. All of the reservoirs that are in Tofino are full to capacity every night. We’re in good shape.”

He noted Tofino’s water usage has been declining over the past decade and the district hopes to keep that trend flowing.

“Over the six year period from 2009-2015, the total annual water demand in Tofino decreased slightly by an average of 0.3 per cent per year,” he said.

“On a per capita basis, we’re decreasing water usage by 2.4 per cent year-over-year and on an absolute basis we’re using a little bit less; even with the growth in population and the growth of visitation… That’s a bit of good news that has me thinking, ‘Let’s see if we can continue to affect the demand side.’ Because, I think we can.”